The ever-changing immigration landscape can be difficult to navigate. As we enter the final months of 2022, it seems there’s some good news. The Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule that will make it easier for people with limited income to get legal permanent residency (green card). The department has also extended temporary protected status for people from Myanmar. Finally, the U.S. will resume visa processing for Cubans who want to visit or migrate legally.
Let’s take a closer look at recent announcements.
TPS Extended for Nationals From Myanmar
The Department of Homeland Security has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Myanmar nationals currently protected under the status. Up to 2,290 more individuals are eligible for TPS as long as they were present in the U.S. on or before Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Those already present can re-register to extend their TPS status.
The original expiration date for TPS-holding individuals from Myanmar (Burma) was Nov. 26, 2022. To better aid TPS holders, all cards that expire on Nov. 25, 2022, will be automatically validated through Nov. 25, 2023. Burmese nationals with an automatically extended permit won’t have to show additional documentation when applying for benefits.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) helps people who are escaping conflicts from countries around the world, including many from Myanmar who were fleeing a military-ruled government. With TPS status, refugees can live and work in the U.S. However, TPS is subject to deadlines and end dates, which can create a tenuous situation for those living with the status in the U.S. While TPS is temporary, some immigrants who qualify for TPS can also apply for asylum, which sets them on a path to get a green card.
For 70 years, residents of Myanmar (Burma) have had a military-ruled government. There was hope that electing former peace activist Aung San Suu Kyi would alleviate the situation. However, Suu Kyi was arrested in 2021 and the country’s hope for a transition into a peaceful democracy has waned. Of note, Rohingya Muslims have been persecuted, and the international community has called the genocide of the Rohingya people “ethnic cleansing.”
TPS status provides an opportunity for refugees from Myanmar to escape this dire political environment. If you’re eligible, our nonprofit has built a free tool that can help you apply for status as a refugee or get help with a case you have already filed.
The U.S. To Resume Visa Processing for Cubans in 2023
Cuban nationals will be able to apply for U.S. visas again in 2023. These will include family reunification visas, as well as other types of standard visas available to noncitizens of the U.S. around the world.
Before 2017, the U.S. had a “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy for Cubans arriving in the U.S. This policy allowed for a quicker path to legal residency for Cubans who came to the U.S. without a visa. Once the policy ended, the U.S. began treating Cubans like immigrants from other countries.
Cubans without permanent status became eligible for deportation in 2017 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ended humanitarian protections for them. Immigration from Cuba continued despite the end of these protections.
The U.S. Coast Guard reports that 5,545 Cubans have been interdicted at sea since Oct. 1, 2021. To complicate matters, Cuba hasn’t been accepting deportees. Currently, Cubans who’ve been apprehended by the U.S. Coast Guard are released from custody in the U.S. until they can get asylum hearings.
Continued immigration from Cuba spurred the Biden administration to come up with a new strategy. In 2023, Cubans will be able to start applying for visas at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. The Biden administration also announced other changes:
- An increase in immigration dispatchers to Cuba to handle applications for the revived Cuban Family Reunification Program (CFRP).
- A goal of approving at least 20,000 legal migrants for entry into the U.S. per the country’s commitments under the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords. This figure doesn’t include Cubans who are applying for entry to the U.S. via the CFRP. These applications are for people currently in Cuba.
For questions about visa applications or to get a better sense of the process, check out our learning center, which has detailed information about work permits, tourist visas, and immigrant visas. Our Immigration News Section will keep you informed on changes that impact Cuban visa applications, and our free web tool can help you prepare and file your visa or work permit application.
Changes To ‘Public Charge’ Rules Will Make It Easier for Low-Income Immigrants To Apply for Residency
Changes to the “public charge” rule will go into effect on Dec. 23, 2022. Under the new rule, immigrants filing for green card applications will only be considered a public charge if they exhibit “significant reliance on the government for support,” such as long-term dependence on programs such as SNAP. But there will be less scrutiny for people who use certain services temporarily.
Public charge rules were created to bar immigrants from getting a green card if they were deemed a financial drain on the country. Under these rules, people who have received cash benefits or long-term healthcare at a cost to the U.S. government are ineligible for U.S. residency.
These rules became stricter during the Trump administration and made it harder for low-income and vulnerable immigrants to apply for legal permanent residency (a green card). The Trump administration continued enforcing old rules but added stipulations to prevent immigrants from applying for legal permanent residency if they were seen as likely to need public benefits in the future.
In addition to cash assistance and extended use of government-subsidized healthcare disqualifying potential low-income residents, the Trump administration added more categories, including using the following:
- Section 8 housing, including rental housing assistance
- Medicaid (with some exemptions)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps
Under the new rules, low-income immigrants who’ve received certain government programs or benefits temporarily won’t be automatically disqualified for legal permanent residency.
ImmigrationHelp.org is a nonprofit organization that helps immigrants apply for status, understand their cases, and get qualified legal help when needed. You can use our free web app to see if we can help you achieve your American dream.